Thursday, June 13, 2013

TOP STORY >> Cat from Cabot dies of rabies

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

A housecat from the Hunter’s Chase area on the outskirts of Cabot died from rabies, presumably from being bitten by an infected skunk.

The cat had not been vaccinated against the disease and displayed no symptoms until the day it died, according to a press release from the state Health Department.

This is the first confirmed case of rabies in Lonoke County since 2002.

Cabot Animal Services Director Mike Wheeler said Tuesday that Dr. Susan Weinstein, the Health Department’s veterinarian, called him Monday to alert him that the department was issuing a news release about the cat that lived very close to his area. The mayor’s office asked The Leader to spread the word on the same day.

“Once we know we have active rabies in a particular area, we want the public to beware and to protect their dogs, cats, horses and livestock with rabies vaccinations,” Weinstein said in the press release from the state.

If not treated soon after contracted, the rabies virus attacks the brain and spinal cord and is fatal. The virus lives in the saliva and nervous systems of infected animals and is spread by bites or even contact between the saliva and open wounds, the eyes, mouth or nose.

And the number of reported cases is growing.

The health department says most years they test about 1,000 animals and average 50 positive cases of rabies. So far in 2013, 550 animals have been tested and with 93 positives – 87 skunks, one bat, two dogs, one horse, one cow and one cat.

All dogs, cats and ferrets in Arkansas are required by state law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian, Wheeler said.

Although rabies vaccine may be available at feed stores, it is not recognized by the state because documentation can’t be verified and pet owners who use it run the risk of having their pets quarantined if they are bitten, he said.

The health department says the vaccine protects pets and also acts as a barrier between the wildlife exposures of rabies and people, since pets are more likely to be exposed to a rabid skunk directly than people.

The signs of rabies include a change in behavior. Rabid animals may attack for no reason or seem unnaturally friendly.

Staggering, convulsions, choking, frothing at the mouth and paralysis are often present. Skunks may be seen out in daylight, which is an unusual behavior for them, or they may get into a dog pen or under a house.

Many animals have a marked change in voice pitch, such as a muted or off-key tone. An animal usually dies within one week of demonstrating signs of rabies.

But not all rapid animals display the common signs of the disease so avoidance of all stray dogs and cats is recommended.

The health department also recommends these steps to protect yourself from the disease:

• Be sure dogs, cats and ferrets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

• Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals.

• Keep family pets indoors at night.

• Bat-proof your home or summer camp in the fall or winter. (Most human rabies cases are caused by bat bites).

• Encourage children to immediately tell an adult if any animal bites them.

• Teach children to avoid wildlife, strays and all other animals they do not know well.

•  Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the nearest local health unit. Do not let any animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies. Depending on the species, an animal can be observed or tested for rabies in order to avoid the need for rabies treatment.

For more information, call the Lonoke County Health Unit at 501-843-7561 (Cabot), or 501-676-2268 (Lonoke), or Dr. Weinstein, the state public health veterinarian, at 501-280-4136.

TOP STORY >> Ward Council says one acre per horse

Leader staff writer

Whether miniature horses are the pets they were bred as in 17th Century Europe or livestock was answered in Ward on Monday night when the city council voted unanimously to uphold its ordinance requiring a minimum of one acre of pasture per horse.

The vote means that Patricia Tullos will have to find a new home for herself or Beau, her four-year-old miniature horse who is no bigger than a St. Bernard.

Alderman Charles Gasteneau led the discussion about allowing Tullos to keep her horse in her yard.

Gasteneau said he drove by Tullos’ home to see the conditions there. The horse was in good physical shape, he said. And there was plenty of shade for it, but he said he was concerned about the lack of natural grass for grazing. “I can’t recommend approval,” he said.

Alderman Lee Schoonover had a different reason for upholding the ordinance.

“The whole idea behind the ordinance was to keep farm animals out of the city limits,” Schoonover said, adding that if they allowed the little horse, pigs might be next.

Asked if she could find someone to board it, Tullos, who started to cry when she heard the vote, said she knew no one in the area because she had only lived in Ward since December.

On the recommendation of Mayor Art Brooke, the council gave her 30 days to find a solution.

On her way out the door, Tullos told the council, “I hope nobody ever asks anybody in here to get rid of one of their children. I can’t have children. Our animals are our children.”

The meeting was a short one but long enough for Tullos to return with her husband before the council members dispersed.

“What’s wrong with you people,” her irate husband asked. “None of you have a heart in your chest.”

The situation was defused by Police Chief Steve Benton who stood in front of the shaking man, blocking his view of the council members and telling him that he would accomplish nothing with his anger.

The mayor said after the meeting that small though he may be, Beau is still a horse and the council had worked two years on the ordinance before approving it.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to buy the old farm co-op building on Hwy. 367 so the city will have commercial land available for new businesses that might locate there.

The 1.58 acres and building appraised for $125,000, the mayor said, but First Arkansas Bank and Trust offered it to the city for $62,500.

The mayor said the bank offered to finance the property, but he preferred to pay cash. Alderman Jeff Shaver agreed, saying there would be other opportunities to show goodwill by financing projects.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Robinson leaves mark

“Life deals you the reality. What are you going to do with it? I strongly believe in blooming where you are planted.”

– Col. Brian Robinson in a speech to Webster University students earlier this year.

If the airmen of 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base are the Black Knights, then Col. (Brig. Gen.-select) Brian Robinson has certainly been their kingly leader and the wing, the base, the community and the relations between them have more than bloomed in the 18 months that Robinson has headed the wing.

The brigadier general-selectee will relinquish the reins July 9 and head up to Scott Air Force Base, Ill. He will be succeeded by Col. Patrick Rhatigan, an energetic leader who, like Robinson, has served in Southwest Asia.

In what is actually his fourth tour of duty at LRAFB, Robinson has overseen major accomplishments and had to deal with financial strains imposed by government turmoil.

He helped oversee an air show — one of the last we will see for a while — that brought in a 250,000 people to see how the base works and how ready the base is to respond to any conflict or disaster. Those have included continued support on the war on terror and numerous humanitarian efforts around the globe.

Robinson was also at the 19th AW’s helm when it was announced that the base and community received the Abilene Trophy, for the second time in three years, for outstanding community-base relations and support.

But what was toughest for this officer, who was raised by a single mother who received her nursing degree while bringing up three children, was dealing with budget cuts, sequestration and furloughs, which hit the base because of a congressional impasse.

His focus was on communication — getting the word out to base members as things unfolded. At the same time, Robinson and his team looked at every possible way to save money and yet keep the wing mission-ready. He succeeded, even with more than 600 civilian-employee furloughs hitting the base next month.

Robinson’s work ethic was clearly on display as the 19th AW commander. But his dedication started early in his Air Force career.

A command pilot with more than 4,300 hours in airlift and trainer aircraft, he actually rented a Cessna to make sure “I didn’t get air sick before flight school started” because he had never been in a plane.

Robinson believes leaders have a responsibility for developing employees to reach a higher potential.

“Provide honest and timely feedback; communicate with your people. Communicate strengths and weaknesses. Don’t think that ‘no news is good news.’ Be honest with timely, constructive criticism so your employees can grow in performance; coach your people. Informal conversations are as important as formal ones.” These are just some lessons he has learned and practices.

As a leader, Robinson believes he should always be humble, credible and approachable. He also said a good leader knows his craft, and he should admit when he’s wrong.

Robinson’s life focus is simple: Work hard to make a positive difference in the world. Here at LRAFB, he did it all and he will be missed.

TOP STORY >> Vendor pushes farmers market

Leader staff writer

Judy Herring wants to see the Jacksonville Farmers Market grow like the many vegetables, herbs and livestock on her three acres of land at the Lonoke and Pulaski county line.

The first step is getting the word out that it needs more vendors, the owner of Whole Harvest Farm at 4007 Joshua Road said.

The market is held at a pavilion in front of the community center, 5 Municipal Drive, from 7 a.m. to noon Saturdays and from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays. The last day of the market is Oct. 26.

“The fact that I was the only vendor there” was what motivated Herring, 72, to become more proactive.

Several vendors have told her, “We can only be at one (farmers market). We want to go where the people are.”

Herring explained that vendors can earn $100 a day at the Cabot or Argenta farmers markets. She said she understands that, but attendance at the Jacksonville’s market will improve when more vendors participate.

“It has to change, and it can change,” Herring said.

She has spoken with the mayor about designing fliers to promote the market and using the city-owned billboard off Hwy. 67/167 near the Redmond Road exit to direct traffic there.

Municipal Drive connects to Redmond Road right after the exit and that is where a sign with an arrow pointing to the market should be, Herring noted.

She thinks the event is held in a great building with fans that prevent the summer heat from becoming too much for vendors and shoppers.

Another plus is that vendors pay only $25 for the whole season.

“It’s the best deal in town,” Herring said, noting that many markets ask vendors to spend $10 per booth per day.

This is not an unfamiliar venture for Herring. She started farmers markets in Louisiana and Pennsylvania.

Herring said, “There’s all kinds of people out there.”

She noted that people with their grandma’s old recipes or craft makers could come sell their goods at the market too.

Already the Pulaski County Extension Service has offered to set up information tables and the nutritionist at Little Rock Air Force Base is encouraging military families to attend the market, Herring said.

“One of the things I’m doing is tapping into my community. There are two groups I’m very interested in,” she continued.

Herring explained that she wants young airmen who don’t have big salaries to turn away from junk food and toward affordable vegetables available at farmers markets.

Another group she thinks the market can help is the elderly and low-income families who don’t think they can afford fresh food.

“It’s corporate America putting out the food. It looks pretty in the store, but what is it doing to our bodies?” Herring said.

Her farm’s vegetable gardens include plants that help keep bugs away. Also, tall plants are next to those that need more shade, which is called companion planting, Herring noted.

In her passive solar greenhouse, plants are grown from organic seeds that are not genetically modified. Passive greenhouses do not use artificial heat sources.

The farm’s orchard has apple, fig, nectarine, peach and pear trees.

There are strawberries and a large herb garden with cilantro, parsley, rosemary, sage, oregano, Thai basil and more.

Herring also caters to the “green smoothie” crowd by growing wheat grass and other ingredients, like kale.

She uses 100 percent natural and food-grade coconut oil and food-grade lye to make soap. The latest addition to that line of goods is soap made with her goats’ milk.

Herring may seem like a superwoman, but she is humble enough to know that she couldn’t do all she does without help from friends and family.

Her sidekicks are her daughter, Jena Voehringer-Redger; her daughter’s fiancĂ©, Travis Redger; his grandfather, Dean Redger, and two friends, Ginny Mack and Corinne Cafferty.

Herring bought her house and farm in Arkansas in 2011. She takes care of 56 free-range chickens, three roosters and five goats there.

Herring’s vision is for the property to be a permaculture farm where all of the land is used and everything planted is edible. “We use the whole of everything. We recycle,” Herring said about how the farm got its name.

Herring’s green thumb is hereditary, she added.

Her grandmother was German. “They make everything,” Herring explained.

She noted how her grandma reacted when any of the children became ill.

“The first thing she would do is put her hand on her head and pray for us. The second thing she did was give us awful, awful (tasting) herbs, but we got better.”

Community involvement is Herring’s other passion. Her husband, who passed away in 2005, was a farm manager in 1975 or 1976, Herring said.

She was in charge of outreach and their herb garden.

Herring is on the board of directors for the nonprofit Southern Mutual Help Association. Its mission is to build rural communities in Louisiana. The association was founded in 1969 to address the deplorable housing conditions of sugarcane workers, Herring said.

She used to live in New Iberia, La., where the association’s headquarters are.

While Herring and her husband were there, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked havoc. New Iberia is located in the center of the state, Herring explained, so she helped the victims of both storms recover from their losses.

Herring said she managed the logistics of 6,000 volunteers bringing aid to 120 small, rural communities when they were affected by the natural disasters.

She is also a member of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, which includes 44 Arkansas farmers and others from nearby states.

Many of the farmers are purists, dedicated to natural growing and not using pesticides or any other chemicals.

“It’s becoming a close-knit group of people wanting good food,” she said about the organization.

Herring is part of the Rural Local Initiatives Supporting Communities too. The group is connected to how the government helps communities, she said.

TOP STORY >> No secrets kept from these guys

Leader editor

A couple of guys in their 20s have embarrassed America’s trillion-dollar military and intelligence apparatus by leaking secrets that were supposed to stay inside the National Security Agency and the Pentagon.

Along with the most serious assaults on press freedom since the Nixon administration — the seizing of reporters’ phone records and threatening to indict them as co-conspirators — the disclosure of widespread monitoring of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails should worry anyone who cherishes freedom over government control.

The Obama administration may have misled Congress about the unrelenting snooping, thanks to a liberal interpretation of the Patriot Act. Politicians of both parties insisted the act would make it easier to spy on foreigners, while law-abiding Americans had nothing to worry about. Only the gullible believed them.

Along with previous reports in the media, we know that warrantless eavesdropping is now common. Reporters are being subpoenaed for revealing supposed secrets. The war on the media is bound to fail.

Journalists have provided sketchy details about the NSA’s snooping for years. USA Today reported back in 2006 about phone companies turning over their records to the government. In 2009, the PBS series “Nova” aired a program called “The Spy Factory,” which interviewed former NSA staffers who confirmed the around-the-clock snooping.

Last August, the New York Times aired a video about “The Program,” code-named “Stellar Wind,” which disclosed the construction of a giant data warehouse in Utah.

More revelations are inevitable as whistleblowers step forward. Some are genuinely concerned about the unwarranted surveillance, while others may be borderline personalities like Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is on trial for leaking thousands of military and diplomatic documents.

Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA and government consultant, has just disclosed secret information about extensive government surveillance here and abroad.

Manning, 25, and Snow-den, 29, inexplicably had complete access to hundreds of thousands of secret government records. Apparently no one considered Snowden, a community-college dropout, or the cross-dressing Manning security risks.

Snowden, who failed to get into an elite fighting force, may have held a grudge against the military, although he insists his motives for dumping secrets to the Washington Post and the British Guardian are patriotic.

The U.S. will seek Snow-den’s extradition from Hong Kong, where he’s hiding out — unless the Chinese, who are conducting cyberwarfare against the U.S., grant him asylum. The Russians are also interested in having him defect.

Snowden could be the Manchurian candidate who betrayed more secrets than any communist agent during the Cold War. He knows a lot.

But he probably did us a favor by releasing documents that show how pervasive snooping has become. The notion of privacy is as quaint now as quarter-a-gallon gasoline. The government is saying we might as well get used to it: Privacy is not coming back.

Thanks to Snowden, we now know that supporters of the Patriot Act were duped into thinking that most Americans wouldn’t be spied on. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), one of the authors of the Patriot Act, insists Congress didn’t intend to give the government unlimited powers to snoop on us.

“Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American,” he said last week after he found out the National Security Agency was tracking phone records and e-mails here and abroad.

But once you give spy agencies unlimited powers to eavesdrop and read your e-mails, who will tell them to stop? When the act was reauthorized in 2006, President Bush said he would not brief Congress on how law-enforcement agencies were using their new police powers.

Harvard law professor Noah Feldman (no relation) recently wrote that the Patriot Act lets these spy agencies do just about anything they want once a friendly judge gives them the go ahead. “Read narrowly, this language might require that information requested be shown to be important or necessary to the investigation. Read widely, it would include essentially anything even slightly relevant — which is to say, everything.”

More than one million private contractors have security clearances as the military and spy agencies rely more on outside companies, such as Lockheed Martin, for intelligence gathering and analysis.

Snowden, who was making $120,000 a year before he defected, worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, the giant consulting group that does security clearances for the government and has employees inside the National Security Agency. Owned by the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm, Booz Allen — we always thought of it as a public relations firm run by political insiders — has evolved into a shadow government with about 25,000 employees.

Arkansas’ congressional delegation isn’t saying much about the administration violating at least the spirit of the Patriot Act by eavesdropping on Americans here and abroad.

They’re not exactly friends of President Obama — all but one are Republicans — yet nobody wants to admit that the Patriot Act, which gave the government additional powers to fight the war on terror, always had the potential for abuse.

Nobody said the war on terror would be easy, but even the most enthusiastic supporters of the Patriot Act are having second thoughts about granting unlimited surveillance powers to intelligence agencies.

Few politicians around here are speaking out yet, although they must realize now the Patriot Act has obvious flaws.

The Patriot Act comes up for review in Congress in December, and stricter controls to protect the American people’s privacy should be considered. The ACLU filed suit Tuesday to stop the eavesdropping. Groups on the left and right will likely join the challenge, which will almost certainly wind up in the Supreme Court.

If authoritarianism comes to America, it will seize power with the help of national spy agencies, the IRS, the FBI and Booz Allen Hamilton. They’ll identify those who are politically suspect and, for starters, take away our phone and e-mail privileges.

TOP STORY >> Backers decide to delay request for new district

Leader staff writer

A group seeking Jacksonville’s own school district had to delay its presentation to the state Education Board on Monday after falling short on the number of signatures needed.

The group had planned to submit a petition the state board requesting its support before a federal judge.

“We will turn in the petition in July,” said Daniel Gray, spokesman for the Jacksonville/North Pulaski Education Corps.

“We were worried that we just didn’t have enough signatures. We want to be over not by a few signatures but by hundreds,” he said Monday.

Gray said part of the problem is that a new law pushed through the legislature by Rep. Mark Perry (D-Jacksonville) — which would require school-districts-to-be to only collect 10 percent of the number of voters in the last election — isn’t in effect yet.

Because no emergency clause was attached to the new law, it won’t take effect until Aug. 17.

So instead of needing 1,268 signatures to get the courts to consider an election for a separate school district, the Jacksonville group needs 1,869.

More than 2,100 signatures were turned in to county clerk’s office to be verified. Out of those 1,700 were declared acceptable.

“Plenty under the new law, but it left us short under the current rules,” Gray explained, adding that he had another 300 signatures to add to it. “We might have been able to push them through, but it’s better to wait and make sure we are doing everything right.”

He blames himself for not having enough signatures. “We didn’t do a big massive push, just a small grassroots effort, and still almost got there,” Gray said. The education group will be collecting signatures at the city’s FestiVille, June 21-22.

“We’ve done everything else we need to do to get our district started,” Gray said.

The petition will be presented at the state board’s July 8 meeting in Little Rock.

Petitions are available to sign at First Arkansas Bank and Trust, RE/MAX and Bart Gray Realty, city hall and the chamber office.

Six feasibility studies over the past 35 years have all said the same thing: Jacksonville has the tax base to support its own school district without upsetting the required black-white ratio for either Jacksonville or the Pulaski County Special School District.

Mayor Gary Fletcher has constantly said that the lack of a local school district has been a detriment to the city’s economic growth.
The push for an independent local school district started in the 1960s. It has gained momentum ever since partly because the newest Jacksonville school is more than 40 years old and no new one is planned.

The perception, if not reality, is that tax money from Jacksonville goes to support county schools and construction south of the city. The last two new schools for the district were built in Maumelle (a high school) and Sherwood (a middle school).
There was also long-term leadership disarray in the district, which resulted in the state taking it over in 2011.

The proposed Jacksonville school district would have 4,000 students and 11 schools – Adkins Pre K Center, Arnold Drive, Bayou Meto, Murrell Taylor, Pinewood, Tolleson and Warren Dupree elementary schools, Jacksonville Middle School and North Pulaski and Jacksonville high schools — all sliced from PCSSD.

Two other closed schools would be included: Jacksonville Elementary and Jacksonville Girls Middle School.

The latest study, using 2012 enrollment figures, shows that the new district “would have minimal effect on the racial makeup of the remaining PCSSD and that the racial makeup of the new district would include a slightly higher percent of black students than currently exists in the current PCSSD.”

TOP STORY >> New base commander

Col. Patrick Rhatigan will assume command of Little Rock Air Force Base’s 19th Airlift Wing from Col. Brian Robinson in a change-of-command ceremony on July 9.

Robinson, who has been the 19th AW commander for 18 months, was recently selected for promotion to brigadier general and will become the vice commander of Air Mobility Command’s 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

The 618th AOC is responsible for executing global command and control of all Air Mobility Command airlift and air refueling missions conducted as the air component of the U.S. Transportation Command (USTC).

Rhatigan, a 1987 graduate of Bethpage High School on Long Island, N.Y, pinned on his colonel eagles last September.

He has been deployed to Southwest Asia, where he was the 379th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. Before that assignment, he served as the military assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs in the Pentagon.

Before moving to the Pentagon, Rhatigan served as commander of the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron out of McChord Air Force Base, Wash.

He has had numerous deployments to the Asian theater. On one of his deployments he sent his old high school an American flag with a signed certificate saying, “On Feb. 19, 2009, dedicated members of the Air Force flew this flag over Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in your honor. It flew onboard a KC-135R Stratotanker during an Operation Enduring Freedom combat refueling mission.”

The 19th AW is the “Home of C-130 Combat Airlift” and works in concert with the 314th Airlift Wing, 189th Airlift Wing, 22nd Air Force Reserves Detachment 1 and USAF Mobility Weapons School in all aspects of C-130 operations and training.

As commander, Rhatigan will lead the world’s largest fleet of C-130 aircraft, providing worldwide deployable C-130 aircraft, aircrews, expeditionary combat support personnel and equipment for Air Mobility Command and Air Expeditionary Force taskings.

SPORTS STORY >> Colts’ consistency leads to ninth win

Leader sports editor

There was no huge inning, but the North Little Rock Colts kept the pressure on Cabot by putting the ball in play, throwing strikes and playing good defense. It resulted in a 10-0 victory in five innings at Cabot High School on Monday.

“That’s pretty much what it’s been like all season so far,” North Little Rock coach Robert Hopkins said. “They’ve been very consistent at the plate, very good in the field and we’ve had solid pitching. These kids know the game and they don’t make many mistakes. When you have a group of guys that really know how to play this game like this group does, it makes my job a lot easier.”

The Colts did make one mistake on the base paths in the first inning, but a mistake by Cabot erased it. Dylan Huckaby hit a one-out single, but was picked off by Cabot southpaw pitcher Ryan Logan, resulting in a rundown. Huckaby was tagged out, but only after running into a fielder. Obstruction was called and Huckaby was granted second base. He stole third with two outs, then scored when the throw from home to third got past Casey Vaughan and rolled into the outfield.

Cabot’s best offensive inning was the first one. North Little Rock pitcher Connor Eller struck out the first batter he faced, but gave up back-to-back singles to Bryson Morris and Vaughan. He then recorded another strikeout and got Logan to ground out back to the mound to get out of the inning.

The Centennial Bank squad managed just two more hits over the next four innings off Eller, who finished with six strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter in five innings of work.

North Little Rock added another run in the second after Jack Partlow drew a leadoff walk.

Two batters later with two outs, nine-hole hitter Evan Johnson drilled a line drive, RBI triple to right field.

Huckaby led off the third inning with a triple to right and Alex Gosser drove him in with a groundout to first base. Dylan Boone reached on an error at shortstop and scored when L.J. Wallace sent a shot over the wall in left-centerfield.

Justin Weigle hit an infield single to third base with one out in the fourth. After stealing second, Weigle scored on an RBI single by Huckaby that made it 8-0.

Johnson started the rally in the fifth inning as well with a two-out single to left field. Weigle then tripled to left to score Johnson, and scored himself when Huckaby tripled for the second time in the game.

“The guy that’s been the hottest for us right now is our two-hole hitter Huckaby,” Hopkins said. “You can see what he did tonight.”

Huckaby went 4 for 4 with two triples, two runs scored and a run batted in. Weigle and Johnson each had two hits including a triple for the Colts.

The 9-1-2-lineup combination combined to go 8 for 11 with four triples, four runs scored, three RBIs and two stolen bases. The Colts (9-0) finished with 10 base hits.

Cabot and North Little Rock begin play in the Sheridan Wood Bat Classic today.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot opens season with strong effort

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Shark Rockets and Cabot Piranhas swim teams put together strong showings at Saturday’s swim meet at the Lonoke Community Center.

Lonoke, Cabot and the Lakewood Waves out of North Little Rock made up the three teams that competed, and the Piranhas ran away with overall team scores as they racked up 641 points.

Lonoke took second in the points’ standings with 174, while Lakewood finished with 137 points.

Saturday’s meet consisted of 33 events, and several Shark Rockets and Piranhas swimmers took first place in their respective events.

Grant Goodnight, Connor Hayre and Ramsey Hanle won their divisions in the ages 6 and under boys’ 25-yard freestyle. Goodnight, of the silver division, posted the best time at 22.63. Elizabeth Esteban, also of Cabot, won the girls’ division of the event with a time of 28.72.

For the 7-8-year-old 25-yard freestyle event, Piranhas’ swimmer Maddux Bowen won the bronze division with a time of 19.53.

Cabot also took first in two of the three divisions in that age group for the girls. Carly Madar of the gold division posted the best-overall time at 19.37, while Grace Esteban won the bronze, timing in at 20.69.

Seth Johnson won the 50-yard freestyle bronze division for ages 9 and 10 with a time of 35.07. Collin Jinks of Lonoke took second in the event with a time of 35.07.

On the girls’ side, Charlotte Bell and Kyla Genenbacher of Cabot won their divisions. Bell’s time of 34.24 was good for best overall.

For ages 11 and 12 in the boys’ event, Tyce Wright of Cabot won the silver division with a time of 33.17 and Lonoke’s Nash Tipton won the bronze division with a 34.60 time.

Lonoke won two of the three divisions for the girls in that event. Emily Armstrong won the gold division with a 31.44 time, while Brooke Hill won the silver division with a slightly better time of 31.43.

Izzy Dulin of Cabot took first overall in the bronze, timing in at 33.35.

Cabot’s Ben Cameron and Hunter Carmical took first in the event for the boys’ ages 13 and 14. Cameron won the gold division with a 29.34 time and Carmical won the silver division.

Colton Tidwell and Tanner Edwards of Lonoke won the bronze division as each timed in at 31.19. For ages 15 through 18 in the event, Seth Fox, who raced in the gold division, posted the best time at 24.45.

In the same event and age group on the girls’ side, Haylee Beckley of Cabot timed in at 30.13, which was good for first overall.

Cabot’s Goodnight, Maddux Bowen, Elizabeth Esteban, Madar, Auston Melton, Jason Bongfeldt, Tristen Bowen, Bell, Abigail Thomas, Rachel Sweeney, Rachel Montanaro, Grace Mackey, Justice Austin, Carmical, Fox, Andrew Hupp, Noah Joyner, Catyee Wright, Melanie Abbott, Eryn McCoy, Jessie Baldwin, Kaylie Whitworth, Haylee Beckley and Chelbi Dulin won their divisions in the 50-yard backstroke.

The Piranhas also dominated the relay events for the 100-yard freestyle. The boys and girls combined to win six of the seven events to boost their overall point total.

In the 25-yard breaststroke event, Maddux Bowen and Kendal Lequieu won their divisions for the Piranhas.

In the 50-yard breaststroke, Johnson, Jason Bongfeldt, Tristen Bowen, Jessica Bongfeldt, Kyla Genenbacher, Montanaro, Abigail Breedlove, Carmical, Cameron, John Santiago, Fox, Joyner, Abott, McCoy, Baldwin and Whitworth all won their divisions for Cabot.

In the 25-yard butterfly, Joshua Breedlove of Cabot won the bronze division with a 31.19 time and LeQuiei won the girls’ bronze division with a 31.91 time.

The Piranhas also put together a strong showing in the 50-yard butterfly event as they won seven of the 10 events.

In the 100-yard Individual Medley, Piranhas’ swimmer Coleman Manley took first in the bronze division for the 9-10-year-old age group with a time of 1:49.28. For the girls in that age group, Kyla Genenbacher posted the best overall time from the bronze division as she finished in 1:30.25.

In the 11-12-year-old age group, Tristen Bowen provided the Piranhas with five more team points with a first-place finish in the bronze division with a 1:13.33 time.

Sweeney won the event for the girls with a time of 1:19.31. For the 13- and 14-year olds, Carmical won the silver division with a time of 1:19.47.

Lonoke’s Edwards took first place in the bronze division with a 1:26.44 time. Kylee McGee of Lonoke also took first place on the girls’ side as she finished with a 1:06.49 time.

Wright and Abbott also finished first in their divisions to provide five points apiece for their team.

In the 15-18-year-old age group, Seth Fox, Payton Jones and Noah Joyner, all of Cabot, won their events. Fox, who raced in the platinum division, the highest of all divisions, had the best overall time at 1:03.07.

For the girls, Baldwin and Beckley had first-place finishes for Cabot and Makenzie Bennett and Colby Hartley of Lonoke won their events. Baldwin had the best overall time in that event, timing in at 1:06.53.

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils 4-2 at LR Parkview

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville 7-on-7 team went 4-2 at a 16-team tournament at Little Rock Parkview last Friday. The Red Devils started pool play by beating the team that eventually won the tournament, topping Little Rock Central 27-24. They finished with a 14-7 second-round loss in tournament play to Pulaski Academy.

In between were ups and downs, but mostly ups according to Jacksonville head coach Rick Russell.

“We had one big lull there in our second game, but other than that we’re extremely pleased with how things went overall,” Russell said. “I felt like we played well offensively and defensively, but what we also did that I was really glad to see, is that we started to show some team concept. I noticed we were celebrating together and encouraging each other and helping each other out. When you see that camaraderie start to take place with your place and see them acting like a team, that’s a good thing.”

The lull took place against the McClellan Lions. Jacksonville’s varsity lost that game 27-7 rightafter Russell put together a JV unit to take the place of no-show Dollarway, which played McClellan to within one score.

“Isn’t that something,” Russell said. “We just weren’t in sync on anything, offensively or defensively, and McClellan just threw and caught it perfectly. It’s just one of those things that you learn from, then forget about and move on.”

In the final game of pool play, Jacksonville beat Parkview 23-21, then toppled West Memphis 24-21 in the first round of the tournament.

In the second round, Jacksonville and PA were tied at 7-7 with time left for one more play. A pass to the corner of the end zone was covered well, but the PA receiver made the catch.

“I thought we were going to intercept it,” Russell said. “We had two guys right on it, the ball just got through them somehow and the receiver made a great catch.

“Defensively I thought we did a great job in that game. Coach (Larry) Burrows did a great job of getting them in the right defenses and the right spots and they did a great job of defending. Offensively I thought we could have been a little better, but PA has a lot of experience with this offense and they know how to defend it. We’re still learning but I feel really good about the progress we made, and have been making all offseason.”

Jacksonville also lost more than just the game to PA. Starting wideout Terrell Moore went down with dislocations of four metatarsal bones in his foot. The injury will require surgery and three months of recovery.

Jacksonville goes to Pulaski Academy on Friday to take part in the two-day Shootout of the South tournament, which will attract teams from all over the southeast and Texas. The Red Devils’ first game will be against Allen, Texas. The Allen Eagles, who are the preseason, overall No. 1 ranked team in Texas, leave their $60 million, 18,000 seat stadium to play in the humble facilities of the small west Little Rock private school.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot Red rolls over powerful Black Sox

Leader sports editor

A great hitting night for the home team and a series of errors by the visitors led the Cabot Red junior American Legion team to a 12-2 victory over Bryant on Monday in Cabot.

The Centennial Bank team got 12 base hits and the Black Sox committed eight errors to lead the Panthers to the huge victory.

Cabot scored the first nine runs of the game with two in the first, five in the second and two in the third.

Three Bryant errors led to both Cabot runs in the bottom of the first inning. Kayde Ridgeway and Jarrett Pitchford each reached on infield errors. After a walk that loaded the bases, Lino Garcia was hit by a pitch to score Ridgeway. Austin Jones then reached on an error at third base that also scored Pitchford.

Back at the top of the order to start the second inning, Braden Jarnagin singled, followed by walks by Ridgeway and Ethan Holland. Garcia then hit a grand slam to clear the bases and make it 6-0. Jacob Womack then singled and scored two batters later on another Black Sox error.

Pitchford singled to start a two-out rally in the third inning. Holland reached on an E5 and Garcia doubled to drive in both runs.

After a scoreless fourth, Bryant posted two runs in the top of the fifth to make it 9-2, but Cabot answered with three in the bottom of the frame to end the night early on the mercy rule.

Ridgeway started the rally with a leadoff single to right field. Pitchford then bounced one over the wall in left field for a ground-rule double that left runners at second and third.

After a strikeout, Bryant intentionally walked Garcia to load the bases and set up a force out at every base, but the plan backfired.

Womack singled to centerfield to easily score Ridgeway. When the Bryant outfielder mishandled the bounce, Pitchford was also able to make his way home and make it 11-2.

Womack stood at second after the play and stole third base. The pickoff throw was in the dirt and got past Bryant’s third baseman, allowing Womack to score the game-ending run standing up.

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney mercy rules Bruins

Leader sportswriter

Monday’s AA American Legion matchup between Sylvan Hills and Jacksonville was scoreless after an inning of play, but the Chevy Boys settled into the flow of the game from the second inning on to leave Dupree Park with a 10-0 shutout win over the Bruins in four innings of play.

“We’re playing pretty good right now,” said Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham of his AA team. “This bunch has been out there for a little while and they know what to do. The high-school coaches have done a good job with them and that makes it a little easier on us because we haven’t had much time on the practice field.”

D.J. Scott earned the win on the hill for Jacksonville (10-2). He threw all four scoreless innings and gave up just two hits and two walks, while recording a game-high four strikeouts. The Chevy Boys’ offense found its groove at the plate in the second inning to take some of the pressure off of Scott.

Cleanup hitter Greg Jones started things off with a stand-up double to deep left field. Donte Harris came in as Jones’ courtesy runner, and five-hole hitter Courtland McDonald walked the next at bat.

With runners at the corners and no outs, McDonald broke for second base with LaDerrious Perry at the plate. Bruins’ catcher Carson Sanders tried to catch McDonald stealing with a throw to second base, but on the throw, which was slightly off the mark, Harris broke for home and scored with ease to give Jacksonville an early 1-0 lead.

McDonald advanced to third base on a bunt single down the third baseline by Perry, and scored the next at bat on a groundout by Brandon Hickingbotham. Perry scored the third run of the game two batters later on a fly ball to right field by James Tucker.

Tucker was safe on the play as the Bruins’ right-fielder lost sight of the ball and couldn’t make the catch. Tucker moved to second base on the dropped ball and scored the next at bat on a hard-hit single by leadoff hitter Derek St. Clair that was just out of the reach of shortstop Hunter Heslep.

Scott kept the Bruins’ offense at bay in the third inning and Jacksonville added three more runs to take a 7-0 lead after three. Jones walked to start the inning and McDonald followed with a stand-up double to left field. Perry was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Deaundray Harris walked the next at bat to score Donte Harris, Jones’ courtesy runner.

St. Clair drove in runs six and seven two batters later with a bloop-single to shallow left-centerfield. Sylvan Hills’ pitching struggles continued in the fourth and final inning as Jacksonville’s eighth run was walked in.

The ninth run for the Chevy Boys came as the result of a catcher’s interference call with the bases loaded, and Perry scored the game’s final run from third base on a two-out ground ball to shortstop by St. Clair that resulted in an E6.

“In that second game (Jacob) Riggs just caught a couple of bad breaks on the mound,” said Sylvan Hills coach Matt Presson. “We had a bad read out there in left field and we missed one, and then my right fielder misses one – just giving outs away.

“We just have to cut down on walks and errors, just simple stuff – making plays, make good pitches. We’re leaving runners in scoring position. We missed a bunt. But with some work and some time I think we can get it together.”

Jacksonville’s junior and senior teams will play again today at home against North Little Rock. The juniors will play the first game which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sylvan Hills (2-4) will play at Conway tomorrow in a pair of doubleheader games with the first game starting at 6 p.m.

Monday, June 10, 2013

TOP STORY >> Drug case in Cabot overturned

Leader staff writer

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Cabot man arrested in July 2010 and later found guilty in a jury trial of multiple drug charges will get a new trial because then Circuit Judge Phil Whiteaker didn’t allow him to be represented by the attorney of his choice.

The vote to reverse Ulises Arroyo Jr.’s conviction for possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, maintaining a drug premises and simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms was 5-2.

Arroyo had been sentenced to 29 years in prison.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham, who was not prosecutor when Arroyo was on trial the first time, said Arroyo will be released from state prison to the county jail.

“On Monday, we’ll get the case back on the docket. He’ll get back in the system and we’ll set a new trial date,” Graham said.

Arroyo and his wife, Gisella, were arrested at the same time and were both represented by Jim Hensley. On the day before the trial was to begin, Arroyo and Hensley asked the court to sever the cases and allow him to be represented by Edward Adcock. Whiteaker agreed to sever the cases but said if Hensley was prepared to go to trial for Ulises Arroyo then he must.

Justice Jim Hannah wrote in the majority opinion for the court, “In this case, there is no evidence in the record that the circuit court balanced (Arroyo’s) right to choice of counsel against the needs of fairness and the demands of its calendar.

“We recognize that (Arroyo) made his request for change of counsel on the eve of trial, but there is no evidence that (he) made the request primarily for the purpose of delay, and (he) had already obtained substitute counsel.

“We note that the circuit court made no attempt to determine why (Arroyo) requested the change or whether (he) had acted diligently in seeking the change. “In fact, the circuit court made no inquiry at all about why (Arroyo) did not want Hensley to represent him.

“Moreover, while Adcock requested at the pretrial hearing that he be allowed to state why (Arroyo) needed a continuance, the circuit court declined to hear from Adcock. The fact that the circuit court failed to ask Adcock how long he would need to prepare adequately for trial evidences a failure to actually balance the right to choice of counsel against the needs of fairness, and suggests that the court unreasonably viewed any delay as unacceptable.”

According to information contained in an opinion by the Arkansas Court of Appeals which earlier upheld Arroyo’s conviction, the Cabot Police Department received numerous reports of drug activity at Arroyo’s home and began surveillance of the property. On June, 24, 2010, the police searched his trash and found 0.0328 grams of methamphetamine in a Tupperware container along with gun oil and packaging for a pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamine. Several surveillance cameras were also mounted around his home.

A search warrant was issued and on July 2, police entered his home and found a gun and loaded clip. Arroyo, who was initially cooperative, began convulsing and was taken to a hospital where a toxicology screen was positive for methamphetamine in an amount higher than the lab was capable of measuring.

An empty piece of cellophane in the bathroom tested positive for the drug and police found a glass pipe in the toilet. The search of Arroyo’s home also produced a safe containing $4,759 in cash and bulletproof vests.

TOP STORY >> Gravel Ridge church welcomes Boy Scouts

Leader staff writer

Boy Scout Troop 542 has found a new home at North Pulaski United Methodist Church less than two weeks after the First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge ended its charter with it because Boy Scouts of America lifted a ban on gay youth.

The controversial incident made national news because the local Southern Baptist church was the first in the country to terminate a charter after the policy change.

The troop’s new meeting place at 10 Kelso Road is not even a quarter-mile from the Baptist church at 15915 Hwy. 107 in Sherwood.

Assistant Scout executive Terry Sharp of the Quapaw Area Council said, “It looks like things have worked out well for those guys. The (Methodist) church welcomed them with open arms.”

The pastor of North Pulaski United Methodist Church is Rev. Carol  Goddard. She said, “We’re glad to have them. The Methodist church is a very open church, open hearts, open doors. It was a very normal thing (to do).”

Goddard said the troop met at the Methodist church for several years before they received a charter with the Baptist church.

“The church is small and they kind of outgrew it, and we don’t have a gym,” she noted.

But, Goddard said, that history makes it seem like the troop is coming home.

Sharp said, “What I’m so proud at is that no one is pointing fingers. It was handled in a real Scout manner.”

The Baptist church’s decision to terminate the charter didn’t come as a shock, he noted. Church leaders and the troop have known since February about the national organization impending vote on the policy in May.

Sharp said, “Everybody knew that the decision (on the ban) could go either way. It wasn’t a shock to anybody. It was that harsh reality that kicked in.”

A charter isn’t just a meeting place, he noted.

The charter holder also approves and selects volunteer leadership, Sharp said.

The Methodist church has agreed that scout leader Ed Sawyer can continue in his position, he noted.

Churches hold 70 percent of Boy Scout troop charters and 12 percent of all scouts walk through the doors of a church for the first time because they choose to participate in the values-based organization that builds character in youths through outdoor activities and community-service projects, Sharp said.

Scout values often align with those of churches and chartering a troop can be a great outreach opportunity for churches, he noted.

Sharp explained that the purpose of the Quapaw Area Council is to provide support and expertise to local troops, set up meetings with them and the charter holders, run camps and host district-wide events.

TOP STORY >> Maker of quality leather goods

Leader staff writer

When full-time Cabot firefighter Gabe Tischler is away from the fire station he can be found in his shop, Circle T Leatherworks, making custom belts, holsters and other leather goods.

Tischler is a self-taught leatherworker, but the craft may be embedded in his genes.

His great-grandfather was a shoemaker near Budapest, Hungary. He operated a shop selling shoes, boots and tack for horses up until the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Tischler never met his great-grandpa and is the only one in the family still doing leathercrafting.

He began working with leather to fill a need.

“I enjoy shooting guns for recreation. I collect antique and obscure guns but can’t find holsters made for them. I’m left handed,” Tischler said.

He made his first holster 15 years ago and had been leatherworking as a hobby for the past 10 years. He started out with craft items, bracelets and key chains. He made leather goods for family and friends and decided there is a market in it.

“People are still willing to pay for quality leather products that can last a lifetime and be passed down generations,” Tischler said.

Tischler established his business, Circle T Leatherworks two years ago. He branched out making a line of firefighter gear and name plates attached to firefighting helmets. He also crafts belts and motorcycle seats, saddlebags and chaps.

Each piece starts with a cut from a sheet of leather. Tischler then crafts it from there by stamping designs, carving, molding the leather and dyeing.

“I truly enjoy carving leather, taking a sheet of leather and turning it into something one of a kind,” Tischler said.

He typically works with cow leather. 

“I’ll attempt working with other hides if they are willing to pay for it,” Tischler said.

Tischler’s biggest seller is a hybrid gun holster. It has a plastic face plate heated to conform to a gun’s shape and finished with a leather back.  

He said he has seen a 45 percent increase in concealed-carry holsters sells since President Obama was re-elected.

“I’m two months behind on orders,” Tischler said.

His advertising has only been word of mouth, on a sign on the back of his truck and a Facebook page.

Tischler hopes to have his business established by the time he retires from the fire department.

For more information, call 501-743-9256 or send an e-mail to

Prices vary on what the customers wants and customization. A basic plain belt ranges from $30 to full customized upward a couple of hundred dollars. Hand-tooled leather gun holsters start at $120.

A hybrid holster made of hard plastic and leather backing are $55.

EDITORIAL >> Church helps storm victims

Re:New Community Church in Cabot sprung into action with the precision of a well-trained Air Force squadron when an EF5 tornado decimated Moore, Okla., on May 20.

Pastor Spencer Dunlap said, “My heart just broke about the parents who lost their kids at the school.” Just 10 hours later, hundreds of people from the church and the community were filling more than 250 boxes with food, water, hygiene products and even toys for kids, as reported this week by The Leader’s Jeffrey Smith.

Eight congregants loaded up a van and a 12-foot trailer and hit the road the next morning and headed west to help their neighbors 338 miles away. Donors from around the country gave $1,500 to the church’s storm-relief efforts.

“Annihilation. As far as the eye could see was leveled. It was unreal,” Dunlap said when the group arrived. The destruction was caused by the most powerful tornado possible with winds up to 210 miles per hour.

Twenty-four people were killed, including 10 children. Entire neighborhoods were flattened, causing immeasurable grief and loss for families in an area that looks a lot like central Arkansas.

“We fed people, prayed for people, picked up debris and helped families collect their personal effects. (We were) there to serve and do whatever was needed. What I saw besides physical destruction was emotional destruction. People were sort of wandering around and did not know what to do next. We tried to ask good questions, pray for people and help them get structure by cutting a tree in their yard, working side-by-side,” the pastor said.

Despite the destruction, the storm victims raised American flags on the debris that was once their homes. While Oklahomans start to rebuild, Re:New Community Church is preparing for the next disaster.

“We are creating a formal disaster relief ministry. It will have the resources, skills and be a first-response team in the region and beyond,” Dunlap said.

We are inspired by their faith, effort and commitment to helping wherever they are needed. Re:New Church makes us proud we live here.

EDITORIAL >> Contrasting two cities

What’s wrong with this picture?

Jacksonville has worked for almost three years with a bona-fide, professional economic developer consultant with a multi-million-dollar resume.

Sherwood has worked about a year with a Cabot woman who has minimal experience.
So Jacksonville should have the upper hand, right?

In those three years, Jacksonville has gained a Firehouse Subs restaurant, a new flea market and ground has been broken for a Kroger gas station and a state-of-the art sport-shooting facility. But the consultant was only involved in the restaurant and may have had a part in the Kroger gas station, but the store is not investing any money in modernizing or sprucing up its store — and does the city really need another gas station.

In the past year, one has closed and at least two have changed hands — no one locally is getting rich off gasoline. And next week the city is losing Hastings, which will give the city a big hole in its downtown strip.

We hear a major retailer could move into Jacksonville, which would be welcome news. But so far, nothing is certain.

Meanwhile, the inexperienced Cabot woman, in a year’s time, has taken the credit for bringing into or helping bring into Sherwood a large aircraft cabinet company and Buffalo Wild Wings. On the Border, another national chain restaurant, is opening in the fall, and word is a third one is about to be locked into a contract.

Granted, Sherwood seems to have more highway property available then Jacksonville, but more should be happening in the city.

Now, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher is an honorable and truthful man, and he has said there are a number of great things in the works for the city, and more than likely it’s true, but the proof is in the final product.

Jacksonville does have the new public-safety building that most of the state is in awe about, and by fall will have the shooting facility open, but neither of those came about because of the experienced economic developer.

So, perhaps the expert consultant should have lunch in September with the inexperienced woman at On the Border and discuss strategy.

So, it’s back to the question — what’s wrong with this picture?

SPORTS STORY >> Junior Red team pounds Sylvan Hills

Leader sportswriter

Trailing 3-0 after two innings of play, the Cabot Centennial Bank Red junior American Legion team scored 12 unanswered runs to rout Sylvan Hills 12-3 in four innings of play on Thursday at the Sherwood Sports Complex.

Cabot (2-4) scored 11 of those runs with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, which was pleasing to see for Cabot Red coach David Smith.

“Their pitcher struggled a little bit finding the strike zone and we took advantage of it,” Smith said. “(Braden) Jarnagin had a big hit with the bases loaded that cleared them and that helped out a lot and got us rolling. But other than that it was just good approaches at the plate, finally not swinging at bad pitches. That’s what we like to call being aggressively-selective.”

Cabot trailed 3-1 entering the fourth inning. Lino Garcia started the rally with a double to right field and Austin Jones and Ethan Holland reached base safely to load the bases for Jarnagin, who cleared them with a two-out double.

Bruins’ starter Carson Sanders was pulled after giving up the hit to Jarnagin, but the move proved to be detrimental as the next five Cabot batters walked. Jarnagin scored the fifth run for Cabot on a passed ball at the plate.

Runs six and seven for Cabot came as the result of walks with the bases loaded. Austin Jones drove in the eighth run for Centennial Bank with an infield single to third base, which allowed Jarrett Pitchford to score.

Holland came around to bat again and walked with the bases loaded to send Jacob Womack across the plate, and Mike Havard put runs 10 and 11 on the board with a single down the right-field line. Holland scored the final run of the game on a balk while at third base.

The Bruins (1-3) failed to add any runs to the board in the fifth inning, and after the third out was recorded, the game was called because the one-hour, 45-minute time limit had expired. Seth Cummings earned the win on the hill for Cabot.

Cummings threw all five innings and gave up just two hits and three walks while recording four strikeouts.

“He did well,” Smith said. “There were a few times, you know, that he struggled finding his spots, but he figured it out and rebounded well from his last performance. He did a very good job of locating and delivering the right pitches.”

After a scoreless first inning, Sylvan Hills scored three runs in the bottom of the second to take a 3-0 lead, but couldn’t get anything going after that.

Sanders singled to centerfield to get on base for the Bruins in the second inning, and he scored two batters later on a bad throw to first base by Cummings after a routine ground ball by Reid Atkinson.

Cummings gave up another run later in the inning on a balk with a runner at third base, and Jacob Riggs drove in the final run for Sylvan Hills with a sacrifice fly to right-centerfield, which allowed Atkinson to score.

“I mean, if we don’t have that one inning and we get that out, I guarantee you we would’ve won that game,” said Sylvan Hills coach Matt Presson of his team’s collapse in the fourth inning. “We walked too many people and they know that and the errors are what got them, but hopefully we can take care of that now and come district we won’t have to worry about that kind of stuff.”

The Cabot Red Centennial Bank team will play again Monday at home against North Little Rock. That game starts at 5:30 p.m. Sylvan Hills will play again today in a doubleheader at home against Jacksonville. The first game is scheduled for 2 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot’s seniors get first victory

Leader sports editor

The search for its first win is over for Cabot’s senior Centennial Bank American Legion team. The Panthers went on the road Tuesday and pounded Pine Bluff 9-3 in Jefferson County. The win broke a five-game losing streak that started the season.

“It was nice to get that monkey off your back a little bit,” Cabot coach Cody Whitworth said. “We’d had some people playing out of position for the first several games. This was the first time we’ve had kids playing the positions they’re used to playing, and they were comfortable. That had a lot to do with it.”

The comfort was evident in the error-less defensive performance by the Panthers. Errors had plagued Cabot in some of its early losses. The Panthers committed nine errors in a big loss to Bryant, and six errors in a one-run loss to Fort Smith.

“All that’s directly related to them being in positions they’re comfortable with,” Whitworth said. “We’ve had an outfielder playing third base, and our centerfielder at second. In a way it’s good for them, but we wanted to settle in and get a win.”

Family vacations and nagging injuries are the reasons for the early-season displacements, but Whitworth says the team is now at full strength.

“We talked about working up to when we’re starting to go into postseason and zone tournament, we want to be peaking then,” Whitworth said. “We knew we would be shorthanded early on and we told them to just keep their heads up and hang on. We’d get through it and start working toward that goal.”

Leadoff hitter Conner Vocque scored got the first hit, scored the first run and led the Cabot offensive attack all night. He reached base in all five plate appearances, compiling four base hits and one walk.

“He changed his approach up a little bit and he tore it up in this game,” Whitworth said.

The Panthers compiled 13 base hits with Bryson Morris, Casey Vaughan, Riley Knudsen and Hayden Vinson posting two apiece.

Base hits by Vocque and Morris led to one run in the top of the first inning that gave Cabot the early lead.

Pine Bluff put up three runs in the bottom of the second and stayed in the lead until the fourth inning. Cabot put up one run in the third to make it 3-2, then added two in the fourth to take the lead for good.

Grayson Cole, Vinson, Vocque and Morris all got base hits in the fifth inning to add two more runs to Cabot’s lead, making it 6-3.

After a scoreless sixth inning, the Panthers got the final margin with three runs in the top of the seventh. With one out, Coleman McAtee, Vinson and Vocque got consecutive base hits. Morris reached on an error at shortstop that scored one run. Knudsen then singled to drive in the final runs of the game.

Knudsen was also sharp on the mound, going all seven innings for the win. He threw just 103 pitches, gave up seven hits and three earned runs while striking out eight and walking one.

“Riley threw the ball extremely well,” Whitworth said. “He was stronger in the seventh than he was in the first. His curve ball had more bite on it and his knuckle ball was working well.”

The Centennial Bank squad played Conway last night after deadlines. Cabot will host Clarksville at 8 p.m. tonight and host North Little Rock on Monday.

SPORTS STORY >> Coaches pleased after one meeting

Leader sports editor

The first Cabot High School 7-on-7 football meet was held Wednesday at Beebe’s Bro Irwin Stadium. The neighboring Badgers had to host the meet because the track surrounding the field at Panther Stadium is under construction.

Joining Cabot and Beebe in the meet were Jacksonville, Des Arc and Hazen, and the three local coaches were all pleased with what they saw from their teams.

Cabot defensive coordinator Randy Black is the event organizer and says there were a couple of things he was excited about.

“I think we have a couple of guys who are catching the ball really well,” Black said. “Melder and Jake Ferguson are doing a great job and I thought they stood out a little bit. I was also pleased with the effort. I didn’t see much loafing out here.”

The format Black laid out had four teams on the field at all times and one team taking a rest. All five teams faced the other four in 40-yard competition before a fast-paced goal-line exercise had one team on defense as the other four teams quickly rotated to run one play each from anywhere inside the 10-yard line it wanted to spot the ball.

It was in that situation where Cabot’s defense broke down a little bit.

“We didn’t do as well there as we’d have liked, but it’s the first time out,” Black said. “No question we’ve got a lot left to learn. We gave up too many touchdowns in the goal line situation, but it was mostly due to things we can fix pretty easily. We just had some guys out of position and things like that, and that’s what this is for. We’re here to identify those problems and get them corrected.”

Beebe coach John Shannon showed some exasperation early in the meet with his offense’s inability to get lined up correctly, but felt much better about things at the end.

“The defense did pretty good and I’m pretty pleased with that,” Shannon said. “The offense was just inconsistent. I thought the effort was there, we just have to execute better. There were times when I thought our quarterback (Aaron Nunez) looked great. When he gets his shoulders around and squares up, he throws a really pretty ball. He’s just got to be more consistent with it. But I think it’s a good starting point for us. This group works pretty good and we’ll get better as we keep working on it.”

Jacksonville’s first-year offensive coordinator Adam Thrash wanted to see how his skill players could execute his new system against competition. He wasn’t displeased with the offense, but said he thought the defense was sharper than the offense in first outing.

“I think that’s expected a little bit,” Thrash said. “Defense I think is what this team is known for. But this is great for us. We had some great moments on offense. We have some playmakers at receiver and (quarterback) Reggie (Barnes) is doing a good job. He needs to be a little more consistent and we need to be a little sharper on our routes. But overall I liked how things went for the first time out.”

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney team wins first two

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville senior American Legion team was the last team in the state to get the season started, and started it well, picking up two wins in its first two games. On Tuesday, the senior Chevy Boys beat Conway 8-3 at Dupree Park, then got a walk-off run in the bottom of the seventh to beat Benton Sports Shop 8-7.

Benton took a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning of Thursday’s game. Gwatney pitcher Jared Wilson hit the first batter he faced and walked the second. Leadoff hitter Tyler Lewis made it to third base on the walk when the ball got past catcher Greg Jones.

With runners on the corners, Wilson balked in the first run of the game. Three-hole hitter Carson Holloway doubled over the head of right fielder Kaleb Reeves to drive in the second run of the game.

Two batters later, Holloway scored on a double to left field by Trey Bishop to make it 3-0.

Wilson got the Sports Shop team to go down in order in the second inning and Gwatney got two back in the bottom of the same frame.

Reeves drew a leadoff walk and Courtland McDonald hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. He reached second when a relay throw in a double play attempt got past Benton’s Bishop at first base. A pitch hit Blake Perry and Ryan Mallison hit a sacrifice grounder to first base that put runners at second and third with two outs.

The rally appeared to end when D.J. Scott popped up to third base, but Benton’s Grayson Chilton dropped it, allowing both runners to score and cut Benton’s margin to one.

Gwatney tied it in the bottom of the third on back-to-back base hits by Jones and Reeves, but Benton reclaimed the lead with a run in the top of the fourth. Hunter McDade reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on two sacrifice hits. He then scored on a wild pitch by Wilson to make it 4-3.

Gwatney took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth with one earned and one unearned run. Blake Perry drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double to left-centerfield by Mallison. With two outs, Derek St. Clair hit a blooper to shortstop, where Benton’s Tyler misplayed it, allowing Mallison to score and give the Chevy Boys a 5-4 lead.

Benton got two runs to reclaim the lead in the fifth inning. Chilton reached on an error to start the inning. Pitcher Jared Wilson then got Bishop to fly out and struck out Beesley, but he walked the next two to load the bases. With a 1-1 count to batter McDade, Wilson made a pick-off throw to first base that went awry and allowed two runs to score.

Hickingbotham put James Tucker on the mound, who got a strikeout to end the inning.
Wilson got a no decision for his four and two-thirds innings of work. He gave up only three hits while walking five, hitting two and recording two strikeouts.

Benton went up 7-5 in the top of the sixth with an unearned run. Jacksonville got one back on another infield pop-up that was dropped, this time by the first baseman that allowed St. Clair to score with two outs.

Benton then walked two and hit two in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the game away. McDonald walked, reached second on a passed ball, moved to third on a sacrifice by Perry and scored on another passed ball. Mallison then walked, Scott singled and Tucker was hit to load the bases. Alex Broadwell struck out, but Troy Allen was hit to drive in the winning run.

Jacksonville did most of its damage in Tuesday’s win over Conway in the third inning. Four base hits and four walks turned into five Gwatney runs and a 5-0 lead. The Chevy Boys scored two more on four walks and one hit in the fifth inning. The final run came in the sixth when Austin Allen hit a leadoff triple to the wall in straightaway centerfield. Two batters later, McDonald laid down a perfect squeeze bunt for an RBI single.

Eric Moore got the win on the mound on Tuesday. He pitched four innings, giving up four hits while striking out three and walking four.